For the past five years, Flickr Pro Angelina Todorovic has been living in the Serbian countryside, far from the bustle and hustle of the city. Born in Belgrade, Serbia, in 1956, she started her career traveling the world as a stewardess. Years later, after becoming a successful businesswoman, she bid goodbye to city life and moved to a house on the banks of the Danube River. That’s when photography became a passion. “I wanted to finally dedicate time to myself, nature, cooking, and art.”
For Angelina, nature became a refuge, the perfect place to grow a garden and brush up on some old passions like painting. Her love for photography came next, and she approached it like a canvas. “I always prioritize the feeling that a painting or photo gives to the viewer over technical perfection. So many times we pass by a technically perfect photo because it is cold and sterile. I want to create photos that tell a story, that have warmth and glow with the love and energy that was put into their making.”
At her countryside house, she began self-directing her own recipe and lifestyle shots, mastering the art of still-life and macro photography, toiling in creative isolation. After all these years of semi-retirement, Angelina is sharing what she’s learned about taking photos at home.
Stop caring about expensive gear.
Photography skills are more important than gear. Practice with whatever gear you have, find interesting subjects, and develop an eye for composition and color. “Generally, my photo gear is on the cheap side. I love old vintage lenses like Helios, Takumar, and Pentax. All three are around 50mm, and I call them ‘lenses with a soul.’” Todorovic says. “I also like crop sensors better than full-frame, but luckily I use both a Canon 60D and 6D. With the slightly more expensive equipment, I usually only photograph birds.”
Make the most of window light.
Find a big window and let the daylight in. “Lighting is the most important aspect of my photos,” says Todorovic. “Mostly it’s window light, used as a sidelight or backlight with a white reflector on the other side. With a very shallow depth of field and striving to find the perfect focus spot, I try to get that dreamy and mysterious mood so that the viewer can finish the story of the photo with their own imagination.”
Use your imagination.
Speaking of imagination, Todorovic recommends visualizing your ideal image in your head and not settling until you get what you want. “Sometimes it can take days to find the perfect light, point of view, composition, or even the right camera settings. But it always pays off.” Your time indoors these days can give you ample opportunity to find just the right light and subject for your next masterpiece.
Don’t rely on post processing to create quality images.
Get rid of the “I’ll fix it in photoshop” mentality! Todorovic says she doesn’t rely on photoshop to add effects or textures to her photos, and uses Lightroom only for minor adjustments. She thinks some of these effects are better achieved by carefully selecting what stays in the frame. “My photos are often described as nostalgic, and that is achieved with a very detailed and hard selection of the things that appear in the frame. But you have to be very careful with that as the line between nostalgia and kitsch is very thin. In that case, I try to tone it down with color grading.” For your own indoor photos, try shooting the same subject in various conditions to see how you can achieve the desired effects you might otherwise use photoshop for.
Even the most ordinary item can be a masterpiece if it’s photographed right.
“My message for everyone who wants to try their hand at still-life photography is to stay home and use this time of isolation to join groups where they can find daily ideas on things to photograph in their apartment or balcony. Never forget that ordinary things photographed in the right way can be a masterpiece.” Todorovic recommends starting out with groups like Flickr Friday, Smile on Saturday, Looking close… on Friday! and her favorite, Macro Mondays. “The place where I learned so much about macro photography. My god, it’s so hard to create and tell a story in only three inches.”
Feeling inspired to try out a photo project? Be sure to check out Angelina’s Flickr photostream and let her know how you feel about her work.